CAMDEN — Post 30 American Legion members met the Rock Coast Rip Tide Junior Legion baseball team for the first time July 7, and presented a $500 check to show their support.

The team was founded last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of an independent summer league modeled on Junior Legion baseball, Coach Barrett Brown explained.

Camden Post 30 American Legion presented a check for the Rip Tide Junior Legion baseball team July 7. Susan Mustapich

“We got the word out to Camden Hills and Oceanside school district baseball players, had a tryout, chose a name, and played last summer. We had expected it to be for a single year, but the players were very enthusiastic. When we were given the opportunity to become an official Junior Legion team this year, we took it and contacted Post 30 about being a sponsor,” he said.

The team is having a great season, with a 9-2 record as of July 14.

On July 7, Brown asked Jeff Sukeforth of War Memorial Post 30 in Camden to talk to the team about what the American Legion does.

“Every state has Legion teams, plus Canada,” said Sukeforth. “We’re proud as a Legion Post to be part of this, because that’s what it’s all about, helping serve the community. This is just one more aspect we’re getting involved in this year, and looking forward to next year.”

Sukeforth asked, out of curiosity, if anyone on the team knew how many Major League baseball players in the Hall of Fame played Legion ball.

“Just take a guess. Throw out a number.”

Someone called out “60.”

“That’s not bad. It’s 81,” Sukeforth said.  “There’s an awful lot, obviously going way back when.”

He talked about the first American Legion Baseball alumnus elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bob Feller, a former pitcher with the Cleveland Indians. When Babe Ruth retired from baseball, he went to work with the Legion and got more teams involved, Sukeforth said. “There’s a lot of history to this.”

The baseball hat worn by Rock Coast Rip Tide catcher Blade Brann and his team displays the connection with Post 30 in Camden.

He asked if anyone had any idea when the last team from Maine won the Legion World Series. As it turns out, it was 2004. “It can happen, so keep doing it,” he said.

Post 30 member Sandy Delano brought his catcher’s mitt from when he was on Rockland’s Legion team in the 1950s, and gave it some Rip Tide players to check out.

Assistant Coach Joe Coffey asked if anyone remembered the last time Camden had a Legion team. He was pretty sure he played them in 1985 when he was with the Legion team from Mount Desert Island.

Sukeforth repeated how proud the members of War Memorial Post 30 are of the team, and said they should be proud to be part of this and of the American Legion community too.

From left, Rip Tide Junior Legion players Alex Bartlett, Austin Chilles and Elias Pluecker check out Post 30 member Sandy Delano’s mitt from when he was on Rockland’s Legion team in the 1950s. Susan Mustapich

Post 30 Vice Commander Norm Carver said the check is “for support for your team for this year. We’re very proud to be able to do that, and we’re very proud of these guys,” when presenting it to Brown.

“Keep ’em working,” Carver said.

“We’re extremely grateful for your support and before that your service,” Brown said. Then, he turned to the team.

“Guys this is something for us to think about when we’re out playing a game. We’re also representing people beyond ourselves. We want to live up to that.”